Who's the hero? 1

April 15, 2005

I welcome June Purvis's refreshing interpretation of the life and character of Nelson ("How will history judge Horatio Nelson?", April 8). As one who served in the lower ranks of the British Army for 20 years before entering the academic world, I can vouch that the British military and naval fraternity are selective in identifying their heroes.

I would consider Admiral Jellicoe, who commanded the British Grand Fleet at Jutland in May 1916, to be a better leader and a more strategic thinker than Nelson. Jellicoe was up against a more able enemy, whereas Nelson's opponent was indecisive and rather incompetent. The British naval victory at Trafalgar did not stop the rest of Napoleon's conquest of Europe.

Jellicoe was expected to "Trafalgar" the German fleet.JHad he achieved this it would have been at the cost of the British Grand Fleet. Jellicoe gave the German fleet a hard battle and, although British casualties were higher than those of the German fleet, Scheer had to withdraw. Jellicoe had won a supreme sea victory that hasJhardly been recognised.J My research is not popular in academia and neither is my age, having gained my academic qualificationsJafter the age of 30. I am having to fund my research on the role of women in the British Army's administration in the First World War through a war pension and non-academic work. The heroines I have discovered do not count, much like the history of Nelson's wife, Frances.

John Black
Bristol

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